Electricity + Control May 2017



built into Cummins power solutions. When called to look at generators that aren’t working, we often find that a security guard has borrowed the battery to start his car or the fuel tank has run empty. These are trivial issues and common and remote monitoring can easily be used to overcome them. On a level above this is engine diagnostics. Sensors are installed in all modern engines and this information is ideal for preventative maintenance, to alert plant managers to engine problems before they cause serious damage. PM How does the company fare when it comes to footprint and sound? KG On the emissions side, Cummins is ahead of the curve. Interna- tionally, we supply Tier IV diesel engines, but the issue in Africa is fuel quality, so we are still supplying Tier III systems. We design and manufacture our own emissions and filtration systems, which can easily be incorporate into static back-up or prime generation plants. These do require some routine maintenance, though, and in very remote areas, even changing a filter can be difficult. In the past, a diesel engine designed for other applications would be used for a generator. But nowadays, with our QSK95: 3750, for example, both the engine and the generator are designed from the ground up to suit the specific needs of power generation. The loads and acceleration ranges required for generation are very different to transport needs. A mine truck might go from being empty to carrying 200 t when loaded and the speed, rpm and torque ranges are wide. For generation applications, the operating rpm range can be narrowed and held relatively constant for better optimisation of fuel ef- ficiency, reliability and longer maintenance intervals. The power density of generators is also high and they need to be able to ramp electricity generation up or down from full load to zero in less than 10 seconds. Footprint is also important, as are sound levels. Our units produce 75 dB at 1,0 m and down to 62 to 65 dB at 7,0 m, but enclosures can be used to dampen this right down to below 55 dB, which is the standard specification for hospitals. PM Are gas engines viable alternatives to diesel gensets? KG Natural gas and biogas engines are an increasingly viable alternative to diesel gensets, particularly for combined heat and power applications. Gas engine exhausts run hotter than diesel equivalents, by about 200°C. So by passing the exhaust gas through a heat exchanger, a second and free source of energy in the form of heat becomes available. There is an ideal application in hospitals, for example, where substantial amounts of hot water are needed, as well as prime and uninterrupted electrical power. Most hospitals are already using gas for their boilers. We like to redirect that gas into an engine to produce both heat and power. In so doing, we can often take the hospital off-grid without having to use

substantially more fuel. We have done numerous studies and the cost balance is there. It is a little marginal at the moment but with rising grid-based tariffs, this solution is becoming increasingly attractive. Piped gas is ideal as it overcomes the need for onsite diesel tanks or regular deliveries but, where a gas infrastructure is not available, compressed natural gas from tanks can also be used, with the truck- ing cost being similar to diesel. From a fuel cost perspective, the $0,30 per kWh LCOE for diesel can be brought down close to the $0,20 mark, obviously driven by local gas costs. In Nigeria, where engine generators are routinely used for prime generation, we are seeing price reductions from 30 cents (US) to perhaps 18 cents, when switching from diesel to gas. In addition, the high quality CO2 in the exhaust stream can offer a third bite of the cherry for bottling, food and beverage companies. PM What is the direct efficiency of a gas engine-driven generator? KG The direct efficiency of a gas engine-driven generator is around 40 to 42% but a further 45% can be added to that by beneficiating the heat. That allows these systems to achieve overall efficiencies of more than 80%, which is remarkable for an energy generation system driven by an internal combustion engine. from 25 kVA to 2 000 kVA, with the 16 cylinder, 91 litre QSV91 system being the upper-end flagship. We have the smaller solutions too, though, for small offices or remote clinics, which often only need 25 kW. PM Tell me a little about your gas engine systems that are fuelled by biogas? KG The method of using of gas engine systems fuelled by biogas generated frommunicipal waste: from landfill sites or sewage works was designed in 1970s and 80s, when increasing urbanisation cre- ated management problems for sewage plants. Biogas-fuelled CSP systems offer an excellent opportunity to exploit the waste creating the problem. For sewage, there are two opportunities to extract biogas (methane) for a generator, first directly off the liquid and, second, by gasifying the solid sludge – the exhaust heat from the gas engine being an ideal heat source for drying the sludge. Not only does this enable a sewage works to be taken off grid, making the plant self-sufficient, it can offer opportunities to sell power to nearby housing or industrial estates. On urban landfill sites where Another opportunity for CHP systems is for data cen- tres, where cooling dominates the load profile. Using absorption chillers for the HVAC systems of data centres, the exhaust heat from the gas engines can be used instead of electricity to meet the cooling demand. The data centre can then be taken off-grid in a very cost effective and convenient way – and we are sure to see more and more data centres using this technology. Cummins offers gas-based generation solutions

Electricity+Control May ‘17


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